50 Ways to Enjoy Summer in New Hampshire
From its highest mountaintops to its sparkling seashores, New Hampshire offers a multitude of activities forall seasons – but summer is when the Granite State really shines. Its natural beauty is in bloom for all to see, and its warm and welcoming people help visitors and residents alike enjoy all that this New England state has to offer. Whether you are an active outdoors adventurer or prefer to spend your time relaxing in the sun, here are the top 50 ways to make the most of summer in New Hampshire.
1. Mount Washington Cog Railway
Get a view from the peak of New England’s highest mountain aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway. The three-hour round trip on an authentic coal-powered steam train offers thrilling views from one of the world’s steepest tracks.
2. Fort at No.4
Step back in time at one of the Fort at No. 4’s living history events. From Revolutionary War reenactments to authentic recreations of the Scottish Highlanders’ rebellion, this Charlestown open air museum is a must-visit for any history buff.
3. Morningside Flight Park
If you’re feeling adventurous, try out a once-in-a-lifetime aerial experience at Morningside Flight Park. Located in Charlestown, this facility offers the most complete flight park experience in the country. All ages and experience levels are welcome to enjoy zip-lining, kayaking, paragliding and laser tag.
4. County Fairs
Explore livestock, go for a walk down the midway, take in an open-air concert and revel in the grand old tradition of the fair at one of New Hampshire’s many county fairs, beginning with July’s Stratham Fair and ending with the Sandwich Fair in October.
5. New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Take in a NASCAR race and get caught up in the action at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The best place in New England to watch America’s favorite racing sport, the NHMS also holds racing classes if you’d like to try it out yourself.
6. Profile Lake
Go fly fishing at Franconia Notch State Park’s Profile Lake. Whether you are an experienced angler or a total novice, this beautiful clear lake, known as the Old Man’s Washbowl, offers up plenty of brook trout as a reward for your efforts.
7. Outlet Malls
For those days that are just too hot to be outdoors, enjoy the air conditioning and score some amazing deals at one of New Hampshire’s premium outlet malls: the Merrimack Premium Outlets in Merrimack, Tangier Outlet Center in Tilton or Settlers Green in North Conway.
8. Berry Picking
Go berry picking and enjoy the literal fruits of your labor at one of New Hampshire’s many pick-your-own farms. While strawberry season is coming to a close, prime time for blueberries and raspberries is just around the corner.
9. Sunset Dinner Cruise
Dance and dine on the water aboard a sunset dinner cruise on New Hampshire’s gorgeous Lake Winnipesaukee. With a number of theme nights from Elvis Presley tributes to 1970’s disco parties, you are sure to find an excursion that matches your musical tastes.
10. Mt. Kearsage Indian Museum
10. Learn more about New England’s rich Native American culture at an authentic powwow. Each summer, the Mt. Kearsage Indian Museum opens its annual gathering to the public with music, storytelling, dancing and more.
11. Budweiser Brewery
See the famous Budweiser Clydesdales up close as you take a free tour of Anheuser Busch’s Merrimack brewery. After snapping a picture of the majestic horses, cool off with a cold one in the Hospitality Room.
12. McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
Reach for the stars at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. With daily hour-long tours of the night sky, you’ll have a chance to learn more about astronomy from the comfort of this intimate 92-seat planetarium theater.
13. Poets in the Park
Discover talented local poets at the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program’s Poets in the Park. Each Thursday at 5:45 PM from July 6th until August 17th, these bards will present work centered on the subject of local women from the Seacoast region.
14. Gondola Skyride
Enjoy breathtaking views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains aboard the state’s longest gondola skyride. While ascending the 2,733-foot Loon Peak, you’ll be able to see for miles as you breathe in refreshing summer breezes.
Hit the road and go antiquing along the Route 4 Antique Alley. As the oldest antique district in New England, this shopping trail includes miles of stores offering one-of-a-kind collectibles, unique historic furniture and more.
Marvel at a fireworks display while relaxing on the sand at Hampton Beach. Held each Wednesday throughout the summer, these shows are the perfect way to cap off a day of sun and fun.
17. Covered Bridges
Hop on a bicycle or in a car for a tour of New Hampshire’s iconic covered bridges. Once common throughout the United States, covered bridges have become a common symbol of the Granite State.
18. Pawtuckaway State Park
Hit the water and go kayaking on Pawtuckaway Lake in Pawtuckaway State Park. Canoe and kayak rentals are conveniently available within the park, and the lake’s many small islands and quiet boat traffic make it perfect for novice kayakers.
19. Isles of Shoals Cruise
Learn more about the New Hampshire coastline’s storied history aboard the Isles of Shoals Cruise. This scenic two-and-a-half hour tour will introduce participants to the history of these islands, settled in colonial times by Captain John Smith and known as a legendary pirate hideaway.
20. Public Auctions
Grab a paddle and go bidding at one of New Hampshire’s many public auctions. From collectibles to cars, these in-person auctions are free to attend. You can find some great deals if you know where to look, and just watching is fun even if the bidding gets too rich.
21. Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
Take in a show at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. Known for hosting everyone from Led Zeppelin to Duke Ellington, this historic venue continues to offer a wide range of acts, from classic rock bands like the Beach Boys to hilarious stand-up comics like Brian Regan.
22. Town Squares
Explore the character of New Hampshire’s small towns by taking a tour of the state’s town squares. These quaint centers have retained the atmosphere that characterized America throughout the past century, such as the Milford Oval – actually triangular in shape – in the south of the state.
23. Massabesic Audubon Center
Be amazed by the majesty of nature as you view the ospreys nesting lakeside in Auburn at the Massabesic Audubon Center. After years on the state’s endangered wildlife list, conservation efforts allowed the osprey population to bloom, ensuring that state residents can enjoy these stately birds for years to come.
24. Pickity Place
Have lunch inside a fairy tale at Pickity Place. This 1786 cottage served as the inspiration for a mid-century illustrated edition of Little Red Riding Hood, but the food is entirely new and inventive; five-course lunches are served daily that utilize the cottage’s fresh herb gardens.
25. Cathedral of the Pines
Pay homage to all Americans who have served their country at the Cathedral of the Pines. Located on a hilltop with a stunning view of Mount Monadnock, this 236-acre space stands to commemorate all who have dedicated their lives to the United States, civilian and military.
26. Polar Caves
Go spelunking (in caves suitable for amateurs) at the Polar Caves in Rumney. Formed by a falling of boulders more than 50,000 years ago, this series of granite boulder caves offers up unique natural features that are accessible via a self-guided tour.
27. Hampton Airfield Cafe
Have a snack while observing the airplanes at the Hampton Airfield Cafe. Situated just off the runway, this little diner offers great food to enjoy as you watch planes take off and land. Want to join in on the action? The Hampton Airfield also offers flying lessons.
28. Chester Village Cemetery
Take a tour of a colonial burial ground at the Chester Village Cemetery. One of the oldest in New Hampshire, this cemetery features monuments crafted by some of early New England’s finest stone workers that mark the graves of Revolutionary heroes.
29. America’s Stonehenge
Stand in awe at the ancient construction skills displayed at America’s Stonehenge. While no one knows who built this maze of chambers and meeting places, we do know that it stands as the oldest man-made structure in the country at over four centuries years old.
30. USS Albacore
Imagine yourself deep underwater aboard the USS Albacore. One of the first research submarines deployed by the Navy to test features that would become standard in modern submarines, the USS Albacore is now a museum that offers self-guided tours with recordings from crew members recounting daily life.
Brew your own beer at IncrediBREW in Nashua. No experience is necessary as you can choose from the brewery’s selection of 30 wine and 200 beer recipes. Staff members will clean up your mess and guarantee your results, so you can just enjoy the finished product.
32. Craftman’s Fair
Support local artists at the annual Craftsman’s Fair held at Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury. Whether you’d just like to watch fine craftsmen at work or you want to try your hand at a craft (while under expert guidance, of course!), this fair has something for everyone.
33. The Barnstormers
Catch a show at the Barnstormers, the U.S.’s oldest summer theater. Founded in 1931, the Barnstormers makes in home in the idyllic village of Tamworth, set against the majestic White Mountains. The theater’s company is composed of 40 actors, some of whom have been members of the Barnstormers for 50 years.
34. Circle 9 Ranch
Pull on your cowboy boots on and hit the floor at the Circle 9 Ranch. This family-owned campground maintains a dance hall that hosts weekly line dancing sessions accompanied by live music, allowing New Hampshire residents to enjoy the finest in country western entertainment.
35. Charmingfare Farm
Visit with wildlife at the zoo at Charmingfare Farm. The petting area provides access to the types of animals typically found on a farm, but the wildlife exhibits in the woods offer views of black bears, cougars, lynx, red-tailed hawks and more.
36. Drive-In Theater
Go retro and enjoy a drive-in movie at the Milford Drive-In Theater. While the experience may pay homage to the middle of the last century, the facilities are all modern with Dolby Digital sound, digital projection and all-new movie releases.
37. Clark’s Trading Post
Be dazzled by the famous bear show at Clark’s Trading Post. Started by two brothers in 1949, this entertaining show gives audiences an up-close view of these intelligent and well-trained animals at work.
38. Winchester Speedpark
Rev yourself up at a motocross race at Winchester Speedpark. As motorcyclists fly round-and-round the dirt track, pick your favorite and try to cheer on the winner.
39. Currier Museum of Art
Get cultured at the Currier Museum of Art. Internationally known for its collection of American and European art, this museum also provides access to one of the most important examples of American architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House.
40. Franconia Notch State Park
Circle around the Basin at Franconia Notch State Park. This natural “pothole” creates a bowl-shaped dip in the Pemigewasset River that is noted for its natural beauty; indeed, in his 1858 guide, Samuel Eastmen called the Basin a “beautiful haunt of Nature.”
41. Flume Gorge
Take a closer look at New Hampshire’s native flowers, mosses and ferns as you hike the Flume Gorge. Though the trail does include a lot of stairs, the path is entirely paved and suitable for novice outdoors people.
42. Prescott Park
Pack a picnic to dine al fresco at Prescott Park in Portsmouth. This 10-acre park is situated on the banks of the Piscataque River, with numerous fountains and flower gardens dotting the reaches of the park.
43. Castle in the Clouds
Ascend the rocky Lee Mountain to visit the Castle in the Clouds, a century-old Craftsman-style estate that opens its doors to the public each summer. From the historic museum and art gallery to the horseback riding and hiking trails, this fabulous getaway offers something for every visitor.
Discover the work of America’s preeminent sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, at his home and studio in Concord. More than a hundred of his works of art are on display in the galleries, and sculpture classes are offered if your own artistic talent is awoken.
45. White Mountain National Forest
Stand beside a waterfall in White Mountain National Forest. Accessible all summer long, Glen Ellis Falls is accessible via a short and easy hike. Don’t let the ease of the path fool you, however; this waterfall is magnificent and breathtaking.
46. Wright Museum
Honor the sacrifice of America’s World War II soldiers at the Wright Museum. Located in Wolfeboro, this museum opens only in the summer to host exhibits dedicated to the contributions of American soldiers and servicemen.
47. Canterbury Shaker Village
Learn more about the Shaker community at Canterbury Shaker Village. Now a non-profit museum, this village is dedicated to keeping the legacy of the Canterbury Shakers alive through exhibits, craft demonstrations and self-guided tours.
48. Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse
Climb to the top of the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse and take a peek at the Atlantic Ocean from the observatory windows. Open every Sunday afternoon in the summer, this lighthouse offers a close-up view of a Fresnel lens in the oldest American lighthouse north of Boston.
49. Breweries and Meaderies
Discover the joys of craft beer and mead – yes, mead! – on a self-guided tour of Derry and Londonderry’s breweries and meaderies. These small award-winning establishments offer tastings and education on the wonders of these brewed beverages.
50. Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train
Enjoy your dinner while on the rails aboard the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train. Comprised of restored historic railcars, this dinner train winds its way through the Pemigewasset River Valley as patrons are provided with classic cocktails and fine food.
Retire in New Hampshire
At Havenwood Heritage Heights, we aim to create a supportive continuing care retirement community in which you can spend your golden years. This year marks our fiftieth year of helping seniors make meaningful connections, achieve a sense of well-being and live independently. To learn more about our services and amenities, please contact us today to learn more or to schedule a tour.